There really is a perfect family for every dog. No pooch knows that better than Bandit Rider! The petite Shepherd mix was rescued as a stray in 2014 and taken to the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He was then chosen to participate in the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program where a select handful of inmates foster and train dogs to prepare them for adoption.
Like so many southern strays, Bandit tested positive for heartworm disease. However, unlike the others, he suffered rare and serious side effects from the treatment. Bandit was left completely paralyzed in his hind end.
“At first we all assumed this was something acute or temporary,” Lori Cronin, a volunteer with the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program, told The Dodo in 2018. “We were wrong. His condition not only persisted, it got worse.”
Bandit’s disability didn’t faze his pals in the Jail Dogs Program, especially when he received his very own wheelchair. This spunky senior can do everything the other pups can do – just in his own special way.
Unfortunately, finding the right home proved more difficult. Four different families adopted Bandit, but each ended up returning him, unable to handle the special care he requires.
Finally, after six long years in “the slammer,” a special couple came across Bandit on Facebook. Darrell and Sue Rider were not the slightest bit concerned about Bandit’s paralysis. You see, Darrell also uses a wheelchair.
“The most intriguing part of Bandit is that he and I share the same type of paralysis and use a wheelchair to get around,” Darrell told The Dodo. “Because Sue and I know what it’s like for life in a wheelchair, we knew what was needed for Bandit. We also felt a much deeper connection.”
Despite their instant bond with Bandit, the Riders took their time learning all about his needs before making the adoption official. After six years, Bandit didn’t mind waiting one more month. Once everyone was positive Bandit had found his perfect match, it was finally time for him to go home forever!
According to the Riders, it’s as if Bandit has been there for years. He settled right into his new routine and loves embarking on new adventures with his humans.
His friends at the correction center miss him dearly, but they are also happy and proud to have been a part of Bandit’s journey. They posted this moving tribute to him on Facebook:
“It was a bitter-sweet goodbye today with Jail Dog Bandit. Bitter because he has been with us since 2014 and is adored by all that have come into contact with him. He has made many inmates’ time served just a little easier, he has greeted many tours with his awesome tricks, and he has been loved on by volunteers and deputies alike.
“The sweet part is because we get to watch Bandit make the Jail Dog Program a thing of his past and start on his new journey. Bandit has done “his time” and has reformed many of us that have been fortunate to be in his presence. He has made believers out of the non-believers that thought a wheelchair bound dog wouldn’t make a good pet. He has persistence and perseverance when it comes to learning new things and can adapt and overcome when it comes to finding someone with a treat!
“…There has never been a dog more deserving of the wonderful family he has been adopted into and we are grateful to them both as they add to Bandit’s next big adventure.”